"We're happy, so onwards and upwards" - Honeysuckle team upbeat after surprise Fairyhouse loss
- Key quotes from Peter Molony, racing manager for Honeysuckle's owner Kenny Alexander
- Honeysuckle suffered the first defeat of her career in Sunday's Hatton's Grace
- Molony has said that Honeysuckle will still be aimed at the Irish Champion Hurdle
- Hatton's Grace winner Teahupoo will be aimed at the Stayers' Hurdle
Jack Kennedy riding Teahupoo (L) clear the last to win The Bar One Racing Hatton's Grace Hurdle with Rachael Blackmore and Honeysuckle (R) challenging on the run-in to finish third at Fairyhouse. (Getty)
The unthinkable happened at Fairyhouse on Sunday. Honeysuckle was, finally, beaten.
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Henry De Bromhead's all-conquering mare was looking to win her fourth Hatton's Grace Hurdle, and extend her unbeaten record into a 17th race. Everything seemed to be going swimmingly turning for home, as the odds-on favourite tanked her way to the front approaching the second-last flight.
In previous seasons, we've seen Honeysuckle produce a fantastic turn of foot in the closing stages. However, to the shock of the capacity crowd at Fairyhouse, Rachael Blackmore's mount failed to find that change of gear, crossing the line a well-beaten third as Teahupoo edged out Klassical Dream to claim victory.
The reigning two-time Champion Hurdler drifted right out to 8/1 in Unibet's betting for this year's first Championship race at the Cheltenham Festival. Despite that loss, Peter Molony - racing manager for owner, Kenny Alexander - revealed the team were still pleased with their star's effort.
"In normal circumstances we'd be very happy with the run." Molony told. "After everything she's done in the last couple of years we've been in bonus territory, it's a dream."
"She was good this morning, all fine. It was a great run - finishing third in a Grade One. The winner is a very good horse on soft to heavy ground and we're only comparing it with her magnificent unbeaten record up to now."
After the Hatton's Grace, Honeysuckle usually heads to the Dublin Racing Festival for the Irish Champion Hurdle - a race she's won the last three years - and Molony confirmed that Leopardstown was still the target.
"At the moment, the Irish Champion Hurdle is the plan," Molony continued.
"It was a good run on Sunday, her first run of the season and we're happy, so onwards and upwards."
"I couldn't be more happy for Brian Acheson (winning owner). He's been a good friend to Kenny and I and Henry. He puts an awful lot into the game. No one deserves success more than him."
Teahupoo's success was Gordon Elliott's second Grade One success on the day, following Mighty Potter's victory in the Drinmore. Elliott's praised Jack Kennedy's race on Sunday, before stating Teahupoo would now be pointed at a possible tilt at the Stayers' Hurdle at the Cheltenham Festival.
“He was very good last year on soft ground and we ran him on good ground a couple of times which was probably a mistake but we are still learning about the horse." Elliott said.
“Jack gave him a wonderful ride. He let it all happen in front of him and there is only one winning post. It’s been a brilliant day with two Grade Ones and we were only beaten a head for three.”
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